BOWLING GREEN — Highlands is doing its best to take all of the drama out of the state football finals.
Early in the fourth quarter of the Russell Athletic Class 4A finals against Collins on Friday night, Highlands' people were selling state championship shirts to fans in the stands.
The game's result hadn't been in doubt since halftime, and the Bluebirds were on their way to a 47-0 victory, their fourth rout in a row in the finals at Western Kentucky's L.T. Smith Stadium.
Highlands is the first school in state history to win six consecutive titles, and now has collected 22 big trophies. That's a state record, too. (Trinity can tie that mark if it beats Pleasure Ridge Park in 6A on Saturday night.)
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Highlands Coach Dale Mueller wasn't on hand to watch his Bluebirds soar to victory. He missed the game due to the death of his mother-in-law in New York this week. But Brian Weinrich, Highlands' assistant head coach who served as sideline boss, said Mueller's presence was felt.
"He's here. What happened tonight is because of him. He built this program and the foundation is so solid, we just didn't want to screw it up."
Senior quarterback Donovan McCoy said Mueller was with the team "in spirit, always. He's invested so much of himself into this football team, no matter where he is, he's with us, and his attitude is with us in how we play."
The Bluebirds played great in running their record to 83-1 against Kentucky opponents since 2007.
They outgained Collins 476 yards to 173.
McCoy ran the show. He rushed 15 times for 105 yards and two touchdowns, and completed 10 of 15 passes for 153 yards and two scores.
Senior Colin Seidl carried six times for 115 yards, including a 30-yard sprint to the end zone. Junior Zach Harris ran 14 times for 96 yards and two TDs.
Highlands' defense was terrific, too, led by Seth Hope's nine tackles, including five quarterback sacks.
Weinrich said the blowout was a surprise "because Collins has such an explosive offense, and their special teams are explosive.
"We knew we had to play disciplined football on defense, and we did."
McCoy threw TD passes to Ryan Greene and Luke Turner to put Highlands ahead 13-0 in the first quarter. Harris had a couple of TD runs in the second quarter, and speedburner Seidl also scored to make it 33-0 at the half.
Highlands pushed its lead to 40-0 late in the third quarter on McCoy's short TD run. He added a 12-yard score early in the fourth, which meant the last 11 minutes were played with a mercy-rule running clock.
Collins, a Shelby County school in only its third year of existence, couldn't get anything going against Highlands' swarming defense.
"Wow," Weinrich said as his players celebrated around him. "It's been a long year, a lot of emotions from a lot of different places this season.
"But each guy pulled through tonight. It's all a bit overwhelming, but it's fun, too."